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How to Make it
Work Remotely

How to Make it Work... Remotely

Remote or virtual workplaces aren’t a thing of the future, they’re a reality today. Surveys show nearly half (47%) of Canadian employees work remotely or in some kind of flexible work arrangement.1

Job flexibility and remote access are highly valued in today’s workplace, with 60% of college graduates expecting to be able to work remotely and 69% believing they don’t have to be in an office to be productive.2

Remote work environments present challenges for managers tasked with keeping their team engaged, motivated, and effective. So how do you handle that?

  • Virtual face-to-face: Web-based video services such as Skype or Facetime help us feel more connected. Use them for casual conversations, coaching, and group meetings.
  • Instant message: Encourage quick “chats.” Instant messaging is easy to use and can replace casual break room conversations, helping people feel closer to colleagues.
  • Tailored approaches: Some workers like the phone, some prefer e-mail, and some like both. Use the approach that each person prefers.
  • Set goals and track them: One threat to remote work is the perception of a lack of control. If staff knows what is needed, by what time, and have clear objectives, you can easily track performance.
  • Leverage technology: There are many collaboration and project management tools (both installed as software and online) so you can see at-a-glance the status of a project or progress on tasks you’ve assigned.
  • Don’t ignore security: 80% of corporate desktops contain sensitive information3 so you need to establish security processes to protect privacy and confidentiality. (We’ll talk more about security in a future article).
  • Communicate more not less: Occasional e-mails won’t cut it – you need to be in regular contact so your remote workers don’t feel isolated and disengaged. Check in at least once a day. Avoid vague questions like: “How’s it going?” and opt for more meaningful discussions about challenges being faced and resolution options to empower informed decision-making.
    • Bring everyone in: Even the most effective remote teams need to spend time together. Budget time and money to get everyone together a couple of times each year.

Remote workplaces can be a boon for productivity and employee flexibility. Open lines of communication, clear expectations, and strong management will help you successfully guide your virtual team.

How to Make it Work... Remotely (PDF version)


1. Towers Perrin, 2012 Global Workforce Study, 2012
2. Cisco, Cisco Connected World Technology Report, 2010
3. Shred-It, Our Services, 2014.

The information contained in this HR Tip Sheet is summary in nature and is intended to provide general guidance. It should not be viewed as a replacement for legal or professional advice.

The ADP logo and ADP are registered trademarks of ADP, Inc. All other trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners. Copyright © 2013 ADP, Inc.

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